Christians in southern India have been urged by their leadership to learn from the example of suffering Christians in Kandhamal. In 2008, mobs of Hindu radicals perpetrated the worst anti-Christian violence India has seen in its independent history following the murder of a radical leader. Christians were blamed for the murder and were attacked for almost three months. As a result, over 100 Christians were killed and 56,000 others were displaced and left homeless. Despite this wave of violence, many Christians still held firm in their faith providing a shining example for others facing persecution.
06/08/2017 India (Vatican Radio) – Christians in southern India’s Kerala state have been urged to show greater solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness. Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on June 6 while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district.
The riots orchestrated by Hindu extremists that raged for weeks claimed the lives of more than 100 Christians because they refused to abandon their faith. Over 6,000 Christian homes and 300 churches were plundered and torched, leaving more than 56,000 homeless. Nearly 9 years after the violence, many Christians are still awaiting justice and compensation from the government. Many have not been able to return to their homes.
Akkara’s books on the Kandhamal riots were the results of several visits to the district. The Kerala-born journalist has doggedly investigated the violence and meticulously recorded the witness and suffering of the Christians that followed the murder of Hindu Leader Swami Laxmanananda which Hindu fundamentalists blamed on Christians, despite Maoist rebels claiming it.
“We have a duty to spread this message,” urged Card. Alencherry while releasing the Malayalam version. “The book brings out the brutality Kandhamal Christians had to suffer. These revelations can touch human conscience and enlighten even non-Christians,” Cardinal Alencherry told the assembly of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) attended by over 40 Catholic bishops and 150 religious superiors.
”This book has touched the nerve center of human conscience with graphic details of the suffering and witness of Kandhamal Christians who challenge us to ‘bear witness to the truth’ as Jesus taught,” KCBC president Archbishop Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum observed.